Joyce, lying dead on the couch

About:

Title: Buffy S5.E15 “I Was Made to Love You” + S5.E16 “The Body”
Released: 2001

Drinks Taken: 7*
Vamps Dusted: 1
*Plus enough to drown your sorrows

 

Follow the whole rewatch here!

Last week, everyone got quite an education. We learned that Glory and Ben inhabit the same body; Dawn learned that she’s the Key; Buffy learned that Spike is in love with her, and Spike learned… nothing, actually.

This week, we have the unfortunate pleasure of meeting Warren for the first time, right before we have to bid farewell to a character who’s been with us since the very beginning. OOF, Y’ALL. I’ll be honest, I was not looking forward to the weight of recapping “The Body,” but then I rewatched it, and after drying off my face with a towel, I realized that this episode is arguably one of the best of the series, which is truly a tribute to Joyce Summers (and Kristine Sutherland). 

So let’s raise a glass to Joyce, Slayer mom extraordinaire, Band Candy hottie, and a gal who really knew how to roll with the punches. 

Buffy eagerly watching a pitcher of beer being poured into her glass.

The Buffy Season Five Drinking Game Rules

Drink once every time:

A vamp is dusted
A scene takes place in a cemetery
Willow and/or Tara gets witchy with it
Riley is a drag
Things get funcomfortable between Anya and Xander
Dawn is annoying
Anya loves money
Spike has zero chill around Buffy
The Magic Box has customers

Drink twice every time:

Giles drinks tea
There’s an extremely outdated pop culture reference
A vampire is invited into a house
There’s a call back to previous season shenanigans
Someone uses a payphone
Glory sucks someone’s brain

And while you might not be utilizing the drinking game as much this week, just be glad you’ve got a glass to cry into. Let’s get through this together!

April, a pretty brunette human-looking robot, talking to Buffy while sitting in a swing

5.15 “I Was Made to Love You”

Buffy is still reeling from Spike’s declaration of love, which obviously makes her feel gross–but it’s also triggered a dip in her self-esteem. Will she ever find a guy that wants to stay by her side? This dovetails nicely (as the writers intended) with the arrival of April, a girl who is very clearly a robot. April is on a mission to find Warren, her boyfriend, and when she runs into Tara and Anya, she asks if they know where he is. “I don’t think we know a Warren,” Tara responds, and damn, I wish that remained the case, girl.

Joyce is showing off a new dress to Buffy and Dawn, because she’s going on a date! And she’s nervous! But she shouldn’t be, because she looks amazing. Buffy refuses to give her mom romantic advice, given her own track record, then heads to a Spring Break party, where she runs into Ben and tries way too hard to flirt. But Ben is totally crushing on her (who wouldn’t be?!) and slips her his number, while Anya discovers Chex Mix, background extras awkwardly dance (seriously, it’s distracting), and Spike shows up even though NO ONE wants him there. After Buffy rebuffs (get it) him, he tries to get with April, who has arrived in search of Warren, and she throws him through a window, much to Buffy’s satisfaction. But yeah, April is definitely a robot.

Buffy returns home to relieve Dawn’s exhausted babysitter, Giles (who is all of us when he says she’s too older for a sitter), just when Joyce arrives, in a very good mood over her date. She teases Buffy in a charming scene that makes my heart hurt, because I know what’s coming.

Later, when the Scoobs are discussing why Warren had to make a bot, and how lonely he must be, Buffy internalizes that sadness and calls Ben, who is in mid-Glory-transformation, to set up a coffee date. Then she heads over to Warren’s parents’ house, where Warren is packing up in a hurry and withholding this whole April situation from his girlfriend, Katrina, who storms out because she has had enough of his sketchy bullshit. I have too, Trina, and yet this is only the beginning. SIGH. Meanwhile, at the Magic Box, Dawn wonders if April is another Ted (drink), and Spike shows up, once again, where NO ONE WANTS HIM. Giles makes that pretty clear with this ice cold speech: “We are not your friends. We are not your way to Buffy. There is no way to Buffy.” MIC. DROP.

Meanwhile, Buffy is dealing with another toxic male. Warren admits that he created April to love him, but when she became too predictable, he left her in his dorm room. This hits a nerve with our Slayer, who demands to know if he gave April a chance to fix what was wrong. Aww, Buff! Unfortunately, April does the opposite of fixing when she runs into Katrina, who calls Warren her boyfriend, causing Robot Not-So-Dream Date to crack some ribs and squeeze her unconscious. Buffy and Warren arrive, and she forces him to admit to April that he doesn’t love her. We see April’s machine brain looking through folders with names like fetish, sex, praise, neckrubs, but she’s unable to process what he’s saying, until he claims that he loves Buffy and runs away, GAH WARREN YOU ARE THE ABSOLUTE WORST. April attacks Buffy, and the two fight until the bot’s batteries begin to run down. Sitting on swings, Buffy comforts April while she wonders what happened: “I did everything I was supposed to do. I was a good girlfriend.” It’s a surprisingly tender scene and an important step in Buffy’s journey as an independent woman. Realizing that she doesn’t need a guy in her life right now, she leaves a voicemail for Ben cancelling their date, but Glory hears it. Oh boy!

Spike, on the other hand, is more desperate for companionship than ever, so much so that he forcefully places an order with Warren to build him a Buffy Bot. Yuck yuck yuck yuck yuck. 

After watching April shut down, Buffy heads home and finds Joyce on the couch… dead. She whispers, “Mom?” over and over, eventually devolving into, “Mommy?” and it’s an absolutely gut-wrenching ending. 

How many times do I have to take a drink?

4

Vamps Dusted

0

Old Lady Anya 

Babysitter Giles for Life

I love Buffy’s gleeful expression at the end of their exchange.

S5 Xander Is the Best Xander

As we’ve been saying, Xander has vastly improved in Season Five as a friend and all around human, and this episode was a true testament to that progress. He’s a supportive confidante for Buffy in not one but two scenes, both of which are incredibly sweet.

I mean, I could do without the weird hug joke but I guess Xander will always be a little… Xander. Just like when he over-defends Warren having a sex bot: “Too many girls. I miss Oz. He’d get it. He wouldn’t say anything, but he’d get it.” Would he though?

At any rate, S5 Xander is still the best of the Xanders. 

All the feels right there.

Joyce, dead and lying on the floor

5.16 “The Body”

Many more qualified and experienced TV critics have written about this episode, so I won’t attempt to capture the masterfully crafted mood, or examine the powerful effects of foregoing a score, leaving the characters (and the audience) with the jarring pain of ordinary sounds. I’ll just say that it’s utterly heartbreaking–a devasting emotional blow that knocks the wind right out of you–and that I cried, to use an academic term, a shit-ton. 

The episode begins with the last few minutes of the previous one, which means we have to relive Buffy discovering her mother, dead on the couch. The opening credits play, the normalcy of which feels disorienting, and then we’re watching Buffy mentally retreat into her mind: the Scooby Gang sits around a table for Christmas dinner, with Willow sick from nog and Anya claiming that not only is Santa real, he disembowels children. In the kitchen, Giles asks Joyce if he should open another bottle of wine, to which Buffy replies, “As long as you two stay away from the band candy, I’m cool with anything.” (Drink.) Cut to Buffy trying to wake Joyce up, then calling 911. “She’s cold,” Buff whispers. “The body is cold?” asks the operator. “No, my mom,” Buffy answers, not yet comprehending what is happening. She calls Giles, then adjusts her mom’s skirt (because she’s still Joyce, not “a body”) to cover her legs before the paramedics arrive. They revive her in what we can easily see is a fantasy, with Joyce declared “good as new,” and then we see the reality: Buffy, staring in disbelief, as the paramedics declare her mother officially dead. SMG reaches new levels in this moment, her face slack with shock, unable to make eye contact with the paramedic while he gently tells her the news (and therefore, the camera angle stops just short of his eyes). Disoriented, Buffy walks into another room and vomits, while all noises around her are muted. And when Giles arrives, she panics, insisting that, “We’re not supposed to move the body.”

And then things get even more crushing. Dawn is at school, recovering from someone calling her a freak and basking in the attention of a cute boy while they sketch negative space around a small statue. A grim Buffy arrives, and Dawn won’t step beyond the hallway, insisting on hearing what her sister has to say, and so we watch through the window, which blocks the sound of Buffy telling Dawn that their mother is dead. Dawn crumples to the floor, wailing, and it’s awful, and yep, ugly crying over here! 

The Scoobs all react to the news in their own way. Willow is panicking over what to wear to meet Buffy at the morgue, pleading to Tara, “Why do all of my shirts have to have stupid things on them? Why can’t I just dress like a grown-up?” which makes me laugh and tear up at the same time. Xander is certain that they’ll have a demon to blame (or, at the very least, the doctors who let Joyce out), and then Anya is Anya, and this is when I absolutely lose it: 

Xander accidentally punches his hand through the wall, and the sight of blood, of his heart still beating, is a stark contrast to the shots we see of Joyce’s body being examined by the coroner. After the Scoobs arrive at the hospital, and hugs abound (Anya practically tackles Giles), the doctor confirms that Joyce died from an aneurysm, and he reassures Buffy that even if she had been there when it happened, she couldn’t have saved her mom. Buffy hears this as the doctor lying to make her feel better, and then she’s left alone with Tara while the rest of the gang hits the snack machine. In a quiet, deceptively simple exchange, Buffy admits, “I don’t know what’s going on. I’ve never done this.” “I have,” Tara replies, then shares that her mother died when she was 17. I don’t think I’ve ever loved Tara more than in this moment, when she forgoes the usual BS and honestly, plainly tells Buffy that it’s impossible to explain your thoughts in a situation like this, and that she gets it, and she’s there if Buffy needs her. 

Dawn, meanwhile, leaves the bathroom and sneaks into the morgue, and I’d be annoyed with her if, you know, her mother hadn’t just died. The room is (forgive me) silent as a tomb, and she tiptoes up to Joyce’s body, but can’t bring herself to remove the sheet. Behind her, we see a body sit up–oh snap, it’s a vampire! He attacks Dawn, and thankfully Buffy shows up and tackles him. They struggle, with no badass fight music, just the sounds of scuffling and crashing, until Buffy manages to cut his head off. Both she and Dawn sit on the floor, breathing hard and looking up at the gurney where the body of their mother lays, with the sheet pulled back. Dawn stares at Joyce’s slack face and asks, “Is she cold?” “It’s not her. It’s not her,” Buffy replies. “She’s gone.” 

How many times do I have to take a drink?

3, officially. Unofficially, you know, I had to drown my sorrows. 

Vamps Dusted

1

Scooby Feels

Watching Xander and Willow comfort each other, in a way only besties can, was such a beautiful reminder of their enduring friendship. 

Xander Still Can’t Catch a Break

While he and Anya are up in the dorm room, grieving with Willow and Tara, he gets a ticket for double parking. Maybe he should trying singing an excuse?


Welp, THAT was emotionally exhausting! How are y’all feeling? Did you notice aspects of “The Body” upon rewatch that you didn’t catch the first time around? What do you think makes the episode so impactful? Also, how phenomenal is SMG?!!

Join me in the comments so we can let our feelings all hang out, then come back next week when Kandis recaps “Forever” (hi Angel!) and “Intervention.” 

Sarah splits her time between Dallas and Austin, and believes there is no such thing as a guilty pleasure, which is part of why she started FYA in 2009. Growing up, she thought she was a Mary Anne, but she's finally starting to accept the fact that she's actually a Kristy.